FARMER FOCUS: The highs and lows of dairy farming

At last spring appears to be in the air; just as we launch a last-ditch effort to drill some winter wheat. Urea has been applied to all grassland and a small area of barley at a rate of 100kg/ha.

The new fertiliser spreader is performing well, peaking at an application rate of around 20ha/hour in the bigger paddocks.

Calving has started at a pace at both the Dewsbury and York farms, as has, thankfully, the 2013 grazing season. All milking cows are now out by day, with the decision to go out night and day to be taken with average farm cover and as growth rates allow.

After four-and-a-half years it is time for me to stand down from writing this article, it has certainly been an interesting period in our lives. Cow numbers have tripled as has the land area under our management, we have gone from one child to three and we are just about to move house for the third time.

Dairy farming is certainly a challenging career path, with the highs and lows definitely getting higher and lower, but I truly believe there is a fantastic future in this sector with a great story to tell.

Throughout writing this piece I have been lucky enough to meet a lot of wonderful people who have given, on the whole, positive feedback. If anyone wants to keep in touch please email me at

Tom and Catherine Rawson are involved in three separate dairy farming businesses. The core activity is sharemilking about 1,000 cows on a low input forage-based system over three sites. Tom is also a partner in a dairy consultancy company.

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